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S01E01 is the first episode of Series 1 and the first episode overall of Call the Midwife. It originally aired on 15 January 2012 in the UK and 30 September 2012 in the USA.

Overview[]

Nurse Jenny Lee arrives at Nonnatus House in London's East End to begin her work as a midwife. Naive and unused to the harsh conditions of the borough, she must rise above her misgivings if she is to succeed in her new role.

Plot[]

Young nurse and recently qualified midwife Jennifer "Jenny" Lee arrives in Poplar, London in 1957. On her way, Jenny encounters two women fighting in the street over a husbands affair. A crowd has gathered around them, egging them on, and Jenny watches silently until Police Constable Peter Noakes breaks up the fight. As Jenny walks away, Sister Evangelina arrives and takes one of the fighters, Pearl Winston, inside for her examination.

When Jenny arrives at Nonnatus House, she is greeted by Sister Monica Joan, who welcomes and confuses her. Sister Monica Joan explains to Jenny that the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus are an order of nurses and midwives, interspersed with wistful comments about astrology and the flowers in the hall. She brings Jenny into the kitchen and feeds her a cake hidden inside a pot.

The other nuns and midwives - Sister Julienne, Sister Evangelina, Cynthia Miller, and Beatrix "Trixie" Franklin - arrive back from clinic. Sister Evangelina instantly discovers that the cake is missing and confronts Sister Monica Joan about its absence and Jenny tries to discreetly hide any evidence of her having eaten the cake.

After tea, Jenny goes to speak with Sister Julienne. Sister Julienne explains Sister Monica Joan’s eccentric behavior and that, though the operation is run by the order of Anglican nuns, their duty to midwifery is prime and how the nurses worship is their own affair. Sister Bernadette arrives back from a delivery and goes to clean her tools. Sister Julienne walks Jenny through the contents of her nurse’s case.


Jenny arrives at the home of her first patient, Conchita Warren. As no one answers the door, she enters the home and is taken aback by the many strings of laundry hanging in the entryway. Her calls go unanswered until she enters the kitchen and sees it packed with children clamoring over food. The eldest, Maureen, calls over her mother, who welcomes Jenny to her home in Spanish. Jenny laments that she does not know Spanish, but Maureen assures her that Conchita “knows the drill”.

During the examination, Maureen acts as a translator for her mother and Jenny discovers that Conchita has had 22 pregnancies and 24 children. Conchita’s husband, Len arrives home and calls Maureen to help with her siblings. Jenny tries nervously to advise the couple as she has been instructed, but he assures her that they do not need any additional assistance.

At tea, Jenny recounts her experience to her colleagues. They reveal to her that [he] brought Conchita back with him from the Spanish Civil War and that she was no older than 14 when she had their first child. They voice their concerns and question why the police had not gotten involved. Sister Monica Joan recounts that the rector had wanted the couple married, so every legal obstacle was waved away. The telephone rings, calling Sister Evangelina and Jenny away to a delivery.
When they arrive at Muriel’s home, her mother greets them and informs them about the her status. Inside the house, Muriel’s husband and three women are waiting downstairs. Sister Evangelina examines Muriel and the nurses give her an enema, even though Muriel complains that it is undignified. Jenny continues coming to terms with the compromises that mothers in the East End make in their homes and Sister Evangelina expresses her frustration with Jenny’s hesitations, but Muriel reassures her.

When Muriel begins to push, Sister Evangeline lets Jenny take over directing the labour. Jenny congratulates Muriel on the birth of her son, but suddenly the fireplace begins spewing soot. Sister Evangelina dashes to cover the baby with a towel before the room fills with soot and covers all the women. Thankfully, Sister Evangelina covered the baby in time and he is perfectly clean and has already fallen asleep.

That evening, Cynthia, Trixie, and Jenny sit in the kitchen and discuss how it felt to arrive in the East End for the first time. They inform Jenny that, though it was shocking to them, Sister Evangelina grew up very poor and does not react to the dismal conditions. The handyman, Fred, arrives and asks Jenny if she likes toffee apples. Though Jenny is confused, Cynthia and Trixie find Fred’s new attempt at a business venture amusing.


Jenny visits Conchita again at teatime. Jenny sits and eats with them before examining Conchita. While Jenny is checking Conchita for pre-eclampsia, she asks Len if he could persuade Conchita to rest more often as her constant work may be the cause of her swollen ankles. Len reveals that he does not speak Spanish and that he feels that there has never been a need as he and Conchita understand one another.

At clinic, Pearl Winston and Muriel have a tense conversation before Jenny calls Pearl for her examination. During the examination, Jenny notices a severe smell coming from Pearl and feels a large lump on Pearl’s genitals. Jenny leaves to get a more senior midwife. While she is scrubbing her hands, Sister Julienne speaks to Jenny and supports her assessment that Pearl is suffering from a syphilitic chancre. Jenny is dismayed and asks Sister Julienne how Pearl could not have known or cared about the seriousness of her condition. Sister Julienne replies that Pearl is not accustomed to caring or being cared about. Jenny is frustrated by Sister Julienne’s calmness about the situation and the conditions they face. Sister Julienne reminds her the nurses are in Poplar to support people through the difficult and unsanitary conditions.


On a very smoggy day, Conchita Warren falls while hanging her laundry outside and lays on the ground for a significant period of time. She wakes to her baby crying and begins crawling on the ground before she falls again. Maureen discovers her outside and calls for help.

Both on call, Jenny and Trixie share a cup of horlicks in Jenny’s room. Jenny asks Trixie if she found it difficult when she first arrived. She responds that she did, but she came to realise that the mothers they serve are the brave ones for bearing the difficult conditions and that she is just there to help them. She reassures Jenny and invites her out to dance with her and Cynthia. She then prods Jenny about her love life before Jenny is called out to the Warrens’s.

Because of the fall, Conchita has gone into labour prematurely. Jenny, Sister Julienne, and Trixie prepare to depart. Sister Julienne prepares Jenny that the baby will likely be stillborn. Trixie expresses that she should accompany Jenny, but Sister Julienne has a complex case that requires Trixie’s help more urgently.

Constable Noakes guides Jenny through the smog to the Warrens’s house. When she arrives, Conchita is agitated and screaming wildly. Len is very concerned because Conchita has never behaved this way during labour before. Maureen dashes upstairs to try and console her mother. Conchita’s concussion prevents her for understanding what is happening and she thrashes wildly. The baby is born quickly, but he is blue and does not cry. Jenny shakes her head negatively to Len and sends Maureen back downstairs.

Jenny brings the baby over to the dresser in a bowl and begins tending to her instruments. Len calls her over because Conchita has gone limp from blood loss. While she is tending to Conchita, the baby raises his arms and lets out a weak cry. Jenny rushes over to wrap the baby before handing him to Conchita. Conchita begins bleeding more heavily, but the obstetric flying squad finally arrives as well as Dr. Patrick Turner, the local General Practitioner. The paramedics attempt to bring the baby to the hospital, but Conchita vehemently refuses.

Jenny arrives at Nonnatus House exhausted. In the distance, she hears the nuns singing lauds ― the morning prayer ― and goes to listen for a moment before going to bed.


Jenny and Sister Julienne visit the Warrens to check up on Conchita and the baby. They witness the couple feeding him milk with an icing rod, and inform them that they have no experience caring for such premature babies. Before the institution of the National Health, such premature babies would not have survived, and now they are cared for in hospitals. Sister Julienne and Jenny arranged for the Warrens to be visited three times a day for the first six weeks, then daily for as long as is required to best ensure the baby’s health and chances of survival.


Jenny goes to visit Pearl Winston. Despite the penicillin injections, Pearl unfortunately miscarried. Pearl begins making Jenny a cup of tea and jokes to Jenny that she must think they are all “slatterns” (dirty, untidy women). Jenny repeats what Trixie told her and tells Pearl that she thinks they are all heroines. Pearl smiles and turns up the upbeat song on her radio.
Conchita dances to the same song with her new son in the garden. They are both happy and healthy.

Main Characters[]

Midwives[]

Beatrix Franklin (first appearance)
Cynthia Miller (first appearance)
Jennifer Lee (first appearance)

Nuns[]

Sister Bernadette (first appearance)
Sister Evangelina (first appearance)
Sister Julienne (first appearance)
Sister Monica Joan (first appearance)

Other[]

Fred Buckle (first appearance)
Patrick Turner (first appearance)
Peter Noakes (first appearance)


Guest Characters[]

Patients[]

Conchita Warren
Muriel
Pearl Winston

Other[]

Len Warren
Maureen Warren

Songs featured[]

'The Docks' - Peter Salem
'Call the Midwife Theme Tune' - Pater Salem
'Biking' - Peter Salem
'Que Sera Sera' - Doris Day

Trivia[]

  • S01E01 is the only episode where the theme tune appears in an episode outside of the introduction sequence.
  • The episode is dedicated to Jennifer Worth, whose memoirs were the basis for the TV series. Worth had been involved in it's production right up to her death in May 2011.

Quotes[]

I must have been mad. I could have been an air hostess. I could have been a model. I could have moved to Paris, or been a concert pianist. I could have seen the world, been brave, followed my heart. But I didn't. I sidestepped love and set off for the East End of London, because I thought it would've been easier. Madness was the only explanation.

- Mature Jenny's opening narration.


Sister Julienne: "Do you have a faith, Nurse Lee?".

Jenny: "Not really. I'm Church of England".

Sister Julienne: "We're Anglican too. The way you worship is your own affair. We wear the habit, you wear your uniform, but we are all nurses first, and midwives foremost".

Gallery[]

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References[]

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